Listen to Laura Polley read this poem.
We brought the dog home in the trunk.
All the way from school Dad said she was
back there, feet on the same red carpet as mine.
The February sun made me feel like a thief.
You’re not part of this memory. Your figure is missing
from the strange gray half-light of the closed garage
where he tried but couldn’t shut her eyes, Siberian blue,
where we stood, two blunderers, not knowing what to do
with the clumps of dead fur coming off in our hands.
One week before your birthday. You must be inside
washing dishes by hand, or wringing your prayers.
You must be respecting the father’s collapse, his soft
exterior caving in like cake, the daughter’s undoing
in one afternoon a dozen years of ladylike calm.
You must be delegating comfort to the saints.
You must be imagining we need you this way.